In April I attended Render Conf in Oxford UK. Render Conf was a two day frontend conference packed with truly inspirational talks and community activities. During and after the conference my feelings were somewhere between absolutely in love, confused and heart-broken, when the conference was over. ♥ ♥ ♥

Read below why you should go next year!

How did I get there?

I remember Sara Soueidan retweeted a tweet about a scholarship for a frontend conference. So I clicked the link and found a beautiful website with a big animated R that would move and jump and almost giggle when you clicked it. Really cool! It caught my attention right away. The announced speakers immediately appealed to me. Ticket prices were not affordable for me as a student. So I decided to sign up for the scholarship.

The Scholarship

I was lucky to get a scholarship for Render Conf! I was given a ticket for both days. The organizers put a lot of work into making me feel welcome from the first moment on. One of the organizers, Megan, gave me a cute, handwritten welcome letter with a food voucher for the after-party and some chocolate. I signed up for the guide program even though I had been at some conferences before. But I was interested to see how this works and to meet new people. My guide Pete was always magically around when I had some questions and super supportive for all kinds of issues I had. (Thank you so much, Pete!) I also appreciated a lot the reserved seats in the front row for scholars. As I got in a few minutes late this was perfect to start sketchnoting.

Picture of a scholarship welcome letter saying, welcome to Render, Malwine, We hope you have a great time.

The speakers & talks

This is one of the few conferences where I liked every single talk a lot. All of them were super well presented and designed. The speakers were quite a diverse crowd with different passions and views on coding and technology. They truly inspired the attendees through their talks about very diverse topics.

This tweet points out the experience quite well:

I sketchnoted all talks and will publish the notes in a better quality here on my blog soon. For the time beeing they can be found in a collection Henry made. (Thanks Henry!)

I loved all the talks and my absolute favorites are actually 7 of them.

  • Val talked about designing meaningful animations.
  • Sara told us about SVGs in motion.
  • Mariko showed her absolute amazing and beautiful slides and talked about different creative approaches to coding.
  • Robin showed us how important accessibility in the internet is and which technologies can help empower people with and without disabilities.
  • Frederik told us the amazing story about rainbows and how we should think out of the box from time to time.
  • Jake’s slides were just amazing. As well as his content on service workers.
  • Jade showed us some insights on how they rewrote Fastly’s frontend including early user focus interviews.

I will link the videos as soon as they are published.

Jade Applegate presenting her talk. Jade Applegate on stage.

The organizers

So Render Conf is organized by White October Events. They do an amazing job in creating a welcoming and inspiring event. Besides organizing this really special conference they opened a Slack channel for Render conf which was quite cool. In Slack I got to meet Seb who gave me a lift from the airport to Oxford. (Thank you so much, Seb!)

Moreover, they organized a pub quiz the day before the event. This was cool as I got to meet some awesome folks (Den, Eugene, Matt, Steven & Matt). We spent some time together the next days as well and were almost sad when we had to leave to our home towns and countries.

I liked that the MCs pointed out the existence and purpose of the Code of Conduct on both days which was great. I haven’t heard myself about violations. But if there were any I would appreciate a report like DjangoCon did.

The organizers provided a box of women’s hygiene products in the bathroom (Convenient!). Moreover, all the swag (shirts, bag, badge) was super well designed. Similar to the website.

From my experience from helping out at conferences I know there is a million things that we attendees didn’t even get to see which made this conference awesome. So thanks for all the effort.

The Venue

This was the first time I was in UK and also Oxford. The city is cute and a suitable place for conferences. Not too stressful and big but instead tiny and cosy. The venue was a big 2 room event hall which was nicely decorated in the Render Conf colors. There was one hall for the talks and one to hang out, visit the sponsor booths or play video games (This was fun!).

The venue was accessible. Plus, live captioning was provided. Read more about accessibility at their blog.

The Food

Drinks were awesome. Coffee, awesome tea and juices were provided all the time. Food was nice too. It was mostly cold sandwiches and vegetarian options were standard. There were a bunch of alternatives for people with special dietary requirements. I have to admit though that I prefer hot meals for lunch. Sometimes when I am stressed or with too many people I can’t have cold food. I sorted this problem out by having a hot pasta plate every evening at my hostel.

What’s left to say…

This conference was an amazing experience. Attendees and organizers were absolutely lovely and supportive. Everybody I met was friendly and open minded. I had some great discussions with people and truly enjoyed drawing my sketchnotes.

Personally I was reminded how important a good frontend is. I learned many new things which I didn’t believe were possible to build.

The people at White October Events and all their volunteers care a lot and that is what you get to see.

No matter if you are frontend dev, backend dev, fullstack, student or beginner: I can truly recommend to check out Render Conf next year!

Render Attendees Picture by Katura Jensen.